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Americans Downloading More Apps Than Ever

mobile-app-art-11101102   / Credit: Dreamstime.com

Americans are downloading nearly twice the number of apps than they were two years ago, with news, weather and stock apps leading the way in popularity.

Those are the results of a new survey from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project that finds app downloads among American adults rose from 22 percent of cellphone users in September 2009 to 38 percent in August 2011.  The share of U.S. adults who purchased a phone already equipped with apps also increased five percentage points in the past year, from 38 percent in May 2010 to 43 percent in the current survey.

When both groups are accounted for — those whose phones came equipped with apps and those who have downloaded their own — fully half of U.S. adult cellphone owners now have apps on their devices, the research finds.

The survey also finds that among the 10 percent of adults who own a tablet computer, three-quarters (75 percent) report downloading apps. This translates to 8 percent of all U.S. adults.

App preferences

The most popular apps — downloaded by 74 percent — are those that provide news, weather, sports and stock data, according to the research. The researchers did not ask users about game apps, which, according to research conducted by Neilsen earlier this summer, are still the most downloaded type of app.  Also popular are those that help people stay in touch with family and friends, which 67 percent report downloading. App interests also point out opportunities for mobile marketing, with 46 percent saying they downloaded apps that help them shop or make purchases. Men are more likely to download shopping apps than women, with 51 percent of men versus 42 percent of women saying they've downloaded apps for shopping.

The research also shows that app downloaders are willing to pay for their apps. Forty-six percent of adults who download apps report having paid for one.  Among those who have paid for apps, half (52 percent) report that the highest amount they have paid for an app is $5 or less.  However, 17 percent have paid more than $20 for an app.